Gentle Giants

Having recently visited Amboseli, I can say with certainty that elephants are right up there with my favorite animals. I have had the fortune of visiting a variety of wilderness areas across Africa in my life and have seen many elephants, but what I love about elephants, is that they give me this sense of calm, this sense of peace that no other animal has ever given me.

I have had my fair share of close encounters with these giants, but I have built such a great respect for them over time and I think my understanding of them has become very different.

I have always enjoyed sitting with elephants, observing their behaviour and watching their interaction with each other.

Gentle Giants

10 facts about elephants

  • They are the world’s largest land animals
  • They have about 150,000 muscles in their trunks
  • Their tusks are actually teeth
  • Their skin is about 2.5cm this in places and the folds and wrinkles retain about 10 times more than the flat part of their skin, which aids in cooling them down.
  • Elephants need to eat between 150kg – 250kg of food every single day
  • Communication includes, trumpeting, body language, scent and seismic signals which is vibrations through the ground.
  • Calves can stand within 20 minutes of birth (personally, I witnessed a calf being born and it took 11 minutes to stand).
  • The elephants temporal lobe is denser and larger than that of a human, and that’s why you hear the saying that an elephant never forgets.
  • Sad reality - roughly 90% of African elephants have been wiped out in the last century
  • Elephant herds are led by the oldest female in the herd as she has the most experience and is generally the Matriarch of the herd.
Gentle Giants
Gentle Giants

Just like a previous post I did on leopards, these are just facts, but from my personal experience they are very true.

So I have mentioned before that leopards are my favorite animal, but elephants are a very close second! Cats are always great to see out on safari, but for the most part they sleep, yes it is exciting when they are up and moving and active, but like I said they sleep… a lot!

Whereas elephants are always doing something. I mentioned they need to eat between 150kg and 250kg of food every day, the reason for this is that they are hind gut fermenters. This means that an elephant will only absorb between 30% and 40% of the food they take in, this means that an astonishing 60% to 70% goes right through the system.

Why I mentioned them feeding is because I find it fascinating that they have 150000 muscles in their trunk and to watch how they maneuver their trunk and use it to communicate with each other is simply unbelievable. They can tear down a massive branch using their trunk with bruit strength and on the opposite end of the scale they can pick up the smallest fruit by delicately using the tip of their trunk.

Gentle Giants
Gentle Giants

Elephants live in family units, depending on areas, they can consist of anything between 8 to 20 individuals. Generally, they are all related in one way or another and will be mainly adult females with their youngsters, which could be young bull elephants and cows.

Male elephants will either get pushed out of these herds between 13 years and 15 years of age as they become like naughty teenagers. These males will go off on their own and more often than not find other young males and move around as bachelors.

For me, it is more than just the facts that interest me. Over the past couple of months, I have been fortunate to spend MANY hours with elephants. We can learn so much from the natural world, including elephants.

I often found myself just sitting staring at them with a grin on my face. It’s moments like those that fill me with complete peace and relaxation. So, when you next find yourself sitting with a herd of elephants, take time to observe them, what are they doing? How are they interacting and most importantly, how does it make you feel.

Gentle Giants
Gentle Giants
Gentle Giants

It’s a privilege to spend time with these gentle giants that should never be taken for granted.

Until next time,

Trevor

2 thoughts on “Gentle Giants

  1. Andrew Hayter

    says:

    WOW! This are the best photos I have ever seen of elephants! Thank you for posting them. Maybe someday I’ll have the money, lens and experience to dome there and see for myself those great majestic animals.

  2. Trevor McCall-Peat

    says:

    Thank you so much for the Kind words Andrew, I really appreciate it and hope you get to have this kind of experience in the future.
    Warmest regards,
    Trevor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *